Oil Spill: BP Prepares to Place Dome Over the Leak, But Spill Continues

Is brown chemical dispersant already making landfall?

ByABC News
May 5, 2010, 6:45 PM

May 5, 2010— -- As the wrecked wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico continued to spew oil into the water for a 16th day, BP moved forward with a plan to cap the leak and, it hoped, stop the ecological and economic disaster.

BP said that it would have a giant, 100-ton dome-like device placed over the wellhead Thursday, which could begin to collect oil as soon as next Monday. Before that can happen, the dome will have to be connected to a drill ship that can collect the polluted water and oil.

Today, a 12-man crew was preparing the steel dome for its boat ride to the site of the disaster. A crane boat will be required to lift the dome and lower it to the ocean floor, though it's not certain that the device will work under the intense water pressures at the deep-water site.

BP also announced that it had successfully capped one of the three leaks at the site. Though that will not slow the flow of oil, BP said that it will make the collection work easier, going forward.

As Crews Wait for Oil to Hit, Has Dispersant Already Arrived on Beaches?

Back on the surface, the government and cleanup crews were continuing to prepare for the oil slick's landfall today. The some 7,900 people working to protect the shoreline had some reason for relief today, as NOAA suggested that the oil slick will likely move little in the next 72 hours.

But near the Chandeleur Islands, a remote chain of barrier islands in Eastern Louisiana, a different kind of man-made disaster could be seen mixed in the surf today.

Lapping up on shore and traveled to the islands today and saw a layer of brown slime carpeting the water. The slime, which is not as thick as oil, is thought to be the chemical dispersant that had been pumped down to the site of the leak to break up the oil before it reached the surface.

BP announced today that it will stop using the dispersant until environmental impact tests can be performed, but earlier, the company had suggested it believed the dispersant was safe.